The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is urging the House of Commons to support a Bill on Friday in a move that, it says, would save 450 deaths and serious injuries on Britain's road each year.
Nigel Beard MP's Ten-Minute-Rule Bill will be having its second reading and if successful would bring lighter evenings all year round. RoSPA says road safety would be greatly improved by his plan to move clocks forward by an hour throughout the year.
Mr Beard's Bill proposes advancing the time by one hour in England and Wales, and give powers for Scotland and Northern Ireland to make their own decisions. RoSPA believes a common system for the whole of the UK would have the greatest road safety benefit.
Studies show that vulnerable road users such as children and the elderly are more at risk during dark evenings than in the morning. For instance, children will go directly to school in the mornings, whereas after lessons they tend to hang around or go to visit relatives or the shops, leaving them at risk on the road for longer periods. Motorists are also more tired after a day's work and concentration levels are lower.
Under the current system, road casualty rates increase after the clocks are moved at the end of October, with the arrival of darker evenings and worsening weather conditions. In 2003, road deaths rose from 256 in October to 316 in November. Pedestrian deaths went up by more than 50 per cent from 60 to 95 and the overall casualty rate for road accidents also increased.
Kevin Clinton, RoSPA Head of Road Safety, said: "Research shows that the system we are proposing would result in around 450 fewer road deaths and serious injuries in the UK. There may be more casualties on winter mornings, but these would be outweighed by the reduction in deaths and injuries in the evenings."
He said longer evenings would provide more opportunity for outdoor activities, and would bring significant environmental, economic and health benefits. It would also bring the UK in line with most of Europe.